Good evening Bermuda:
In just over two weeks, Bermuda’s Public Schools will reopen for students on Monday, September 14. As we prepare to welcome our students back to their schools and classrooms, principals and staff are busy implementing protocols and plans for the start of the new school year.
As a reminder, schools will reopen for all students on September 14, except for those deemed extremely clinically vulnerable; those in isolation or quarantine due to travel; and those who are sick.
We have received several queries about our S3 and S4 Seniors School students based on the previous announcement that all students under the age of 16 will be expected back in the school buildings when schools reopen. Both Senior Schools are finalizing their particular guidelines, and parents will be contacted next week with those schedules. However, as mentioned above, schools will reopen for all students on September 14.
As I am sure that we all understand, the school experience for staff and students will be different this year. In this regard, there are a few matters that we would like to bring to the attention of our parents.
Principals and Staff
Our school principals returned to school this week, Monday, August 24 and are completing final plans for accepting our students. We know that parents want to hear from their children’s principals, and this information is forthcoming.
At this point, principals are adjusting early morning entry procedures, school schedules, walking through the school buildings with custodians, planning recovery week activities, and receiving school hygiene supplies.
Our teachers will return to school next week, Tuesday, September 1. They will be engaged in training on new safety and health protocols, professional development focused on teaching and learning and organizing and preparing their classrooms for receiving their students.
School Entry Procedures
All schools will start entry screenings at 8:30 am each day. Therefore parents are urged to begin pre-planning in advance if needed, as students will not be able to access school buildings before 8:30 am. Our school leaders are very concerned about students being on the premises unattended before 8:30 am as there are risks for parents leaving students on the premises unattended as staff will not be available to supervise physical distancing and other health-mandated protocols.
Parents are advised that children with elevated temperatures will not be able to enter school buildings. In such instances, parents may have to remain at home with the child on short notice or take the child to a caregiver. Also, parents may be called during their workday if their child is not well, and asked to collect their child promptly as schools cannot keep sick children on-site for long periods during the COVID-19 pandemic. While these measures will have implications for families, they are necessary to protect others from risk.
We understand the difficulties imposed by the pandemic on the community. However, due to the school entry procedures, parents with school-aged children may find it difficult arriving to work on time, particularly if they have more than one child and have to travel to different schools.
As a community, we have come together to assist each other through this pandemic, and the response has been phenomenal. We are asking employers to continue to be supportive of our parents as we navigate through this new norm. Parents, we also encourage you to be proactive and talk to your employer ahead of time to discuss your particular situation.
PowerSchool and Communications
Parents are reminded to ensure they have a parent portal in the PowerSchool app. If you are a parent in the system for the first time, you will be contacted by the Department of Education with set up instructions. PowerSchool is a powerful tool used by schools and gives parents access to student attendance, student performance and other information to help you support their child’s education, while at home.
Live Panel Discussions
The general public is invited to join in a live panel discussion with the Commissioner of Education on Monday, August 31, on the topic of staff and student well-being. Parents can also view the two previous panel discussions that were held this week, on the Bermuda Public School Facebook page or the YouTube Channel.
Also, the Commissioner of Education will host Zoom meetings on September 1st, 2nd and 3rd, from 6 pm to 7:30 pm for students to participate and ask questions. Students are invited to chat with the Commissioner about returning to the classroom in the era of the COVID 19. Chats are as follows:
- Senior School Students
Tuesday, September 1,
- Middle School Students
Wednesday, September 2,
- Primary School Students
Thursday, September 3,
Students are encouraged to bring their questions, suggestions and concerns about returning to the classroom in September.
To register, students can go to the Facebook group for their level, or visit www.moed.bm.
Let me take the opportunity at this time to thank Department of Education and Department of Health staff, principals, teachers, other staff and parents for participating in the live panel discussions that took place earlier during the month. Your participation exemplifies working together for the common good of successfully reopening schools for the benefit of children, families and our community.
Parents should also know that the Department of Education is asking for specific feedback on school reopening. The input of our parents is essential to us, so we encourage parents to complete a school reopening survey, which is included in ‘Scoops,’ the Bermuda Public Schools newsletter. We will also place the survey on the Public School Families facebook groups.
As Thursday, October 1, is Election Day, all public schools will be closed as several school buildings will be used as election polling stations. Consequently, school buildings will be physically closed to staff and students on Friday, October 2 to ensure that schools are thoroughly cleaned before staff and students physically return to schools on Monday, October 5. However, children and school staff will be engaged in a full day of remote learning on Friday, October 2. As a reminder, an updated school academic calendar is posted on www.moed.bm website and on www.gov.bm .
In closing, let me say that these are unprecedented times for all of us. There will be challenges ahead, but working together in partnership, we can overcome them. We will reopen our schools responsibly and as always, the safety, health and well-being our staff and students is our greatest priority.